The company cutbacks in WWE did not end on Thursday.
Wrestling Inc. reports that an additional 10-15 people were let go today. These are people who work behind-the-scenes and at company headquarters. Among those released is a high ranking Vice President, so an announcement should be coming soon.
This news is a strong indication that there are no plans to resume non-televised live events anytime soon. Some of the people who were let go this week were on furlough and there was hope that they would be brought back. Obviously, with the news coming out this week, that is not the case. A WWE source told WInc. that the live event department is now “in shambles.”
There have been discussions about drastically cutting back on live events when fans are allowed back at shows. Wrestlers have seen a drop in pay because they are not making the percentage of revenue that comes in from live event ticket sales and merchandise. On the other hand, many wrestlers were given bigger contracts to keep them away from AEW. We were told that the belief is that the bigger contract offers will not be extended to wrestlers going forward unless they are considered top tier talent so there is no longer the safety net that was there just a few months ago before the pandemic. This puts a lot of wrestlers in a tough spot because AEW is not looking to sign everyone from WWE. Heath Slater and No Way Jose are two names, for example, that are in limbo right now until independent wrestling companies can start running regularly.
Some WWE wrestlers are happy about the reduced schedule because it allows them to heal up while others want to get their reps on the road so they can improve in the ring but we were told that there is a concern that many undercard talents won’t be needed and could be released since there is no need for them without live events. WWE was rotating wrestlers on different weeks before the pandemic to give them some weekends off. Now, with wrestlers working one day a week max, the feeling is that some of the talent won’t be needed and there is more room for cost-cutting. There is a fear among some that more talent releases are coming.
The news about cutbacks to live events is not a total surprise because WWE was already looking at cutting back before the pandemic. The number of shows for February and April were cut down from the previous year and we were told that WWE would have run less shows even if there was no pandemic.